Today in TV History

March 31, 2009

March 31, 1994: Madonna visits “Late Night with David Letterman” where she smokes a cigar, utters a string of profanities and asks Letterman if he wants to sniff her panties. “Coming up in our next segment,” Letterman says, “will be Mother Theresa.”

Today in TV History

March 30, 2009

March 30, 1970: Three new daytime soaps premiere today. “Somerset,” on NBC, will run until 1976. “The Best of Everything” on ABC won’t last out the year. And “A World Apart,” also on ABC, will go off the air in 1971. To date, this is the last time multiple soaps have premiered on the same day in the U.S.

Today in TV History

March 30, 2009

March 30, 1990: Rush Limbaugh is the guest host on tonight’s episode of the CBS late-night “Pat Sajak Show.” His comments about abortion and affirmative action put the audience in a nasty mood, and they end up being escorted out. Limbaugh finishes the show without them and “The Pat Sajak Show” itself goes off the air in a few months.

Today in TV History

March 27, 2009

March 27, 2005: “Grey’s Anatomy” premieres on ABC, giving us, to date, 364 soulful looks, 92 mournful pop songs, 2,385 sex scenes and 854 hours of voice-over narration.

Today in TV History

March 23, 2009

March 23, 1973: After almost fifteen years on the air, NBC’s “Concentration” airs its last episode — number 3,796. At the time, it is television’s longest-running daily game show — a record that CBS’s “The Price Is Right” will eclipse in 1987.

Today in TV History

March 22, 2009

March 22, 1952: After scoring a hit on “Broadway Open House,” statuesque comic actress Dagmar — one of early TV’s first sex symbols — begins her own late-night show on NBC. “Dagmar’s Canteen” features songs and interviews, but runs only three months.

Today in TV History

March 19, 2009

March 19, 1983: First lady Nancy Reagan guest stars on tonight’s “Diff’rent Strokes” as herself, delivering her anti-drug “Just Say No” message to regulars Arnold (Gary Coleman), Willis (Todd Bridges) and Kimberly (Dana Plato). Ironically, Plato will later die of a drug overdose and Bridges will end up being charged with drug-related crimes.

Today in TV History

March 18, 2009

March 18, 1975: On tonight’s episode of “M*A*S*H,” unit commander Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) receives his long-awaited discharge and heads home to Illinois, but is killed when his plane is shot down by enemy fire. The producers deliberately keep the climax from the cast until the last moment, when his death is announced in the operating room by a stunned Radar (Gary Burghoff).

Giant Ants? It Has to Be “Them!”

March 17, 2009

themDear David: When I was about six years old I watched a Sunday afternoon movie about ants that had somehow became very large and were taking over a town. It was in black and white and must have been a movie made around 1940 to 1960 or so. Can you tell me the title and if it’s on video? – Scott, Missouri

Dear Scott: That’s the 1954 sci-fi film “Them!,” which stars James Whitmore and James Arness. It’s on video and DVD.

And I won’t give away the ending, but it involves a giant shoe.

The Disappearance of Tina Pinciotti From “That ’70s Show”

March 17, 2009

fullerDear David Inman: We caught on to “That ‘70s Show” a little late. We love the show but have no idea whatever happened to Donna’s little sister. She wasn’t in very many episodes. So where did the young Pinciotti go? – Connie, via e-mail

Dear Connie: This may surprise you, but Hollywood producers are kind of cynical. They think that if they drop a character from a TV series, most viewers won’t notice or care and are therefore owed no explanation!

This callous disregard of the audience’s sensibilities and contempt for their intelligence has resulted in the unexplained loss of Chuck Cunningham from “Happy Days” (the oldest Cunningham son, who was dropped when Fonzie became the oldest son in all but name); or of Judy Winslow from “Family Matters” (dropped when the series switched to an all-Urkel format). Also, not many people realize that “Eight Is Enough” was originally titled “Twenty-Seven Is Enough” until the producers decided that more than a dozen children would never be seen again.

All right, that last one didn’t happen, but the other two did.

The point is, little Tina Pinciotti (played by Amanda Fuller) appeared only once on “That ‘70s Show” (episode six, “Eric’s Burger Job”) and then went away.

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